Meatballs in a Heavy Tomato Sauce with Soft Polenta

Categories: Main Course, Recipes, West
Tags: , ,
Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: October 12, 2011

I made this particular recipe from the Top Chef cookbook a couple of days ago but through work commitments I just haven’t had time to write it up properly.  It could also be that this made me so full I could barely move for three days… but I’m sticking to my work commitments story.  The sauce for these meatballs is incredible!  I simply could not stop eating it.  I realise a few people who have scanned ahead to the ingredients list will be saying “but you used canned tomatoes!?!” but to be honest some good quality canned tomatoes can be just as good as fresh ones.  Particularly if you are going to use the aforementioned Beef Tomatoes.  If you have no clue what I am on about, read my earlier chili bacon cheese burger recipe.  If you skip the dirt cheap supermarket brand canned tomatoes you will probably find that there is more flavour in the canned type than in a lot of the fresh ones.  Unless you are willing to spend large amounts of money on small, sweet and very tasty pomodoro or sundream tomatoes or perhaps the larger Jubilee tomatoes, you’re not going to be able to make a better sauce.

I’ll admit, the list of ingredients is fairly long and the prep and cooking time isn’t exactly short.  But the end product is definitely worth it.  The meatballs are moist and tasty while the sauce is rich, tangy and heavy without being over-powering.  The Polenta adds some texture and goes well with the sauce.  You could use pasta but that wouldn’t be very imaginative.


Ingredients (Serves 6-8):

500g Beef Mince

500g Pork Mince

50ml Double Cream

1 Large Egg

1 tbps Madeira

4 Whole Peppercorns

1 tsp Fennel Seeds

1 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon


Tomato Sauce:

2 x 400g Canned Tomatoes

250ml Chicken Stock

250ml Beef Stock

3 Sticks of Celery

1 Large Carrot

1 Large Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Sprig Greek Basil

1 Sprig Thyme

2 Bay Leaves

50ml Madeira

Soft Polenta:

See Recipe



1.  Grind the peppercorns and

2.  Loosen the beef and pork mince and then add into a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

3.  Gently combine all the ingredients and then roll into evenly sized balls.

4.  Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan until it shimmers and then shallow fry the meatballs until they turn golden.  Fry them in batches to prevent them steaming instead of frying.

5.  Allow the meatballs to dry on some paper towels


Tomato Sauce:

1.  Brunoise the celery, carrot and onion and fry in a large heavy bottomed pan with some olive oil until they begin to soften.

2.  Crush and roughly chop the garlic and add to the pan.

3.  Next add the canned tomatoes and Madeira along with all the herbs and bring to a simmer.

4.  Add the stocks, stir and let the sauce reduce a little.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Add in the meatballs, cover slightly and allow to cook gently for at least 3 hours.

6.  Remove the bay leaves and check seasoning.  Serve over the Soft Polenta and sprinkle with some Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.


You can make this the previous night and reheat it the next day.  It will keep for a few days and the sauce will taste even better.  Add a little water if the sauce is looking too thick and gently reheat for about 30mins.

When making the sauce, fry the onions first and allow them to become translucent before adding the celery and carrot.

Try not to pack the meatballs into tight balls – just mix them enough to ensure they stick together.  Keeping them loose will allow them to soak up more sauce and it won’t just feel like a mouth full of meat when you bite into them.

3 Comments - Leave a comment
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